After French success over Anglo-Dutch forces at the Battle of Beachy Head, and victory at the Battle of Fleurus in 1690, France posed a threat in Europe. In 1701 the War of the Spanish Succession began, the final war undertaken by a European coalition to curb France’s expansion. The Duke of Marlborough led a combined force of English, Dutch and German troops to the Low Countries; moving south, he linked up with the armies of Prince Eugene of Savoy. They were victorious over the Franco-Bavarian army at Blenheim, preventing a French advance to Vienna. In 1706, the French had been driven out of the Spanish Netherlands; Marlborough had been victorious at Ramillies, and captured Dunkirk and Antwerp. He joined up with Eugene again and crushed the French at Oudenarde, before taking Lille. Advancing towards Paris, the final and bloodiest battle was at Malplaquet (1709). The Allies beat the French but the huge loss of life meant they were too weakened to proceed and the relatively intact French forces remained a potent threat.
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